Belize, formerly known as British Honduras, became an independent nation in 1981, after 17 years of full internal self-government under the British Crown.
Modern topographic mapping of Belize was undertaken by the British Directorate of Overseas Surveys (now Ordnance Survey International (OSI)). Early detailed mapping included a sketch map series at 1:50,000 scale (DCS Misc 8), issued from 1947 by the Directorate of Colonial Surveys. This was superseded in the late 1950s by DOS 449 (Series E 757), constructed from aerial photographs and printed in three colours. In 1963 a new series of 1:50,000 scale maps on the current sheet lines was initiated in collaboration with the Directorate of Military Surveys (DMS), British War Office, and this was followed in the 1970s by a new edition based on air photography flown in 1969 and 1972, with surveyed contours (previous editions used form lines). In 1992, a new revision began to be issued by the British Military Survey. These sheets are printed in six colors and include 40 m contours and shaded relief. Ten categories of vegetation are included in these latest sheets, and road distances are given along major roads. Nearly all sheets are now available in this improved specification. The series is constructed on a Transverse Mercator projection with a UTM grid, Clarke 1866 ellipsoid. Sheets are numbered 1-44, but some are combined in some editions, thus a complete cover is available in 39 sheets.
The 1:250,000 series in two sheets supersedes an earlier three-sheet series. The second edition, published in 1991, shows relief by hypsometric tints at 200 m intervals. On the reverse of the two sheets are 1:7,500 scale street maps of all the principal settlements. The projection is Transverse Mercator, and the UTM Grid is shown by marginal ticks.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Belize is available at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (2 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1990) and 1:500,000 (3 sheets, complete coverage, published 1985-1988). These products are available in paper, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
A Geological map of the Maya Mountains, Belize at 1:130,000 scale was prepared by the British Institute of Geological Surveys (now British Geological Survey) and published by the DOS in 1975. It accompanies IGS Overseas memoir No. 3.
A variety of earth resource mapping has been carried out, initially by the Land Resources Division of DOS, now superseded by the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), Chatham, UK. New land resource assessments were undertaken and published in the period 1986-92, and the whole country is covered by three reports which include 1:100,000 scale land systems and land use maps. The last of these, Land resource assessment of northern Belize, covers three-quarters of the country. A revised soil classification developed during these assessments is also available as NRI Bulletin No. 59.
Detailed maps of towns using a photomap base with arbitrary grid have been produced by the Military Survey. There is also a set of 22 sheets at 1:1,000 scale of Orange Walk, published in 1980.
The Atlas of Belize, published by Cubola and periodically revised, has simple coloured thematic maps as well as numerous coloured photographs. Several tourist maps are also available, including one produced by Cubola for The Belize Tourist Board, which includes maps and descriptive information on the main towns and archaeological sites, an indexed map by students of the University of California and published by Map Link, and an especially detailed one by International Travel Maps (ITM). In 1992, a small tourist map, with an inset map of Belmopan, the capital city, was issued by the Lands and Surveys Department.